Today, credit cards are a convenient way for many people to make purchases, but with so many credit cards available, fraud is becoming increasingly common in Florida. Because credit card fraud is a serious criminal offense, a conviction can lead to imprisonment and significant fines. If you have been accused of credit card fraud, it is crucial to engage the services of an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney.
Herman Law, P.A. routinely defends clients against credit card fraud charges in Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and throughout South Florida. We have a proven track record of providing aggressive representation to our clients and will work diligently to protect your rights.
What is credit card fraud?
Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that involves the use of a credit card, debit card, or any similar form of credit or credit information, to make purchases, withdraw funds from an account, or otherwise obtain financial gain with the intention of avoiding payment. Some common forms of credit card fraud include:
- Application Fraud – Occurs when personal information, including identification, addresses, phone numbers, and places of employment, is unlawfully obtained and used in a credit card application.
- Account Takeover – One of the most common forms of fraud occurs when someone obtains a cardholder’s personal information and contacts the credit card company to report a lost or stolen card, or a change of address, to obtain a replacement card. The card is then sent to the fake address and used to make illegal charges.
- Skimming/Phishing – Data is lifted from the magnetic stripe of a card from a merchant’s card reader or an ATM (skimming), or card account information is obtained in a phishing scam or card breach, either to make purchases online, over the phone or by mail, or to create a counterfeit card.
- Lost or Stolen Card – A credit or debit card that is lost or stolen from a wallet or purse is then used to make purchases, before the cardholder reports them missing.
- Mail non-receipt – A card is stolen in transit, often from a mailbox, after being issued by the credit card company but before the cardholder receives it, and then used to make purchases or withdraw funds.
Elements of Credit Card Fraud
Under Florida law, credit card fraud is committed when the following occur:
- A person uses a credit card with the intent to defraud a merchant.
- The credit card was unlawfully obtained, known to be forged, or presented under false pretense that the card holder authorized the use.
- Money, goods, services, or anything else of value was obtained from the merchant.
It is important to note that repeated fraudulent uses of a credit card within a six-month period are treated as a single crime rather than multiple distinct offenses.
Florida Credit Card Fraud Penalties
Credit card fraud is considered a theft crime that can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the number of offenses committed in a six-month period and the value of the illegal charges:
- First Degree Misdemeanor – The unlawful use of a card two times or less in any six-month period, and/or the value of the goods or services obtained is less than $100, punishable by up to one year in jail, one year probation, and a $1,000 fine.
- Third Degree Felony – The unlawful use of a card two or more times in any six-month period, and/or the value of the goods or services obtained is greater than $100, punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation and a $1,000 fine.
Federal Credit Card & Wire Fraud
Credit card fraud that involves larger sums of money, particularly involving an aggregate value of $1,000 in any one year period, and any related interstate criminal activity such as bank fraud, mail fraud, or wire fraud, can lead to federal charges. A conviction can result in more severe penalties than those under Florida law.
Experienced Credit Card Fraud Attorney
Herman Law, P.A. has extensive experience defending clients against both state and federal credit card fraud charges. We routinely handle cases involving single transactions as well as more complex cases for high value, multiple fraudulent credit card uses.
If you are facing credit card fraud charges we will provide an aggressive defense strategy. Whether by demonstrating mistaken identity, lack of intent or knowledge, or identifying procedural errors made by the prosecution, we will work diligently to win an acquittal. At the same time, we may also seek to have the charges reduced. Because a conviction can lead to a loss of your freedom and cause long lasting damage to your reputation, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. Call our office today for a free consultation.
Herman Law, P.A. serves clients in Ft, Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach Counties and throughout South Florida